resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
March, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 03
The Inside-Out Paradigm: Equalizing the Pressure
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Read Dale's previous article, "Healing From the Core: A New Paradigm," Parts 1 & 2, in the Sept. and Oct. 2004 issues of Massage Today at: www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/09/20.html and www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/10/04.html.
This article will explore a few of the many elements of anatomy and physiology that are fundamental to the proposed paradigm of working from the "inside-out." My first article, "Healing From the Core: A New Paradigm," postulated three core elements that assist the healing process:
The centerpiece of this paradigm is simply to work with how the body maintains itself physiologically and proprioceptively at the same time. Most biomechanical models infer that the source of constricted vascular circulation is the result of the extrinsic musculature's battle to maintain body posture within and against the field of gravity. This is partially accurate. However, it is postulated that contraction of the visceral suspension is a more primary source of vascular congestion and that much of what throws the proprioceptive balance off in the first place is the result of how the body discharges visceral tension into the intrinsic musculature, which then affects the kinetic chain of the joints, thus placing a demand on the extrinsic musculature to contract in order to protect individual joints and the overall balance of an individual. It is a complex both/and scenario. But with further exploration, it will become clearer.
An overlooked aspect of anatomy in our work as massage therapists is that the human body has three great cavities designed to assist the movement of fluids and support the upright carriage of our human structure based on the pressure differences between them. These are the abdominal-pelvic; the thorax; and the cranium.
According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral, the developer of Visceral Manipulation, the pressure of the thoracic cavity in a healthy system is negative in relation to the more positive pressures within abdominal-pelvic and cranial cavities. This negative pressure also acts like a helium balloon to support our posture in the field of gravity.1
This difference in the pressure relationships between the cavities is how the efficiency of the low pressure venous and lymphatic systems is normally maintained in their job of returning their fluids back to the heart and lungs to be re-nourished and recycled. Let us remember that fluid moves from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration naturally. Thus, as one assists the body to re-establish the negative pressure within the thoracic cavity, it allows for an equalization of pressures between the cavities.
How does one tell if the thoracic pressure has become more positive with a client on your massage table? Simple palpation and soft compression of the thorax will readily indicate to you the degree of positive pressure. The less flexible the thorax, the more positive the pressure and, by inference, the slower the flow of venous and lymph return.
Within the body's three great cavities are four visceral sacs:
Each of these sacs is related to physiological waves of expansion and contraction, which are crucial to normal fluid circulation. Their rhythms support the healing process and maintain normal homeostatic regulation:
All of these rhythms are influenced by the pressure within the cavities and sacs, and by the pressure of the tubes within the sacs and by the pressure within those tubes, which pass between the sacs and cavities. Obviously, this adds emphasis to the tone and length of the esophagus, as it is the connecting tube between the cranial vault, thoracic cavity, and abdominal/pelvic cavity. It offers a release valve to the pressures, which often build up within the alimentary canal in addition to the anus at the lower end.
These rhythms are homeostatically regulated between the two divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System; the parasympathetic outflow of the vagus and pelvic splanchnic nerves and the sympathetic nerves exiting from T1-L2 of the spinal cord. It is the flexibility between these two divisions, which regulates who gets the blood thereby the oxygen and nutrients needed to support the healing process.2
How does this pressure in the tubes, sacs and cavities build in the first place? By soft-tissue contraction of the sacs and tubes of the viscera, which lessens the space for the liquids and gases within them. This internal contraction pressurizes the contents. When this pressure is unable to equalize, it builds. The building of pressure creates more soft-tissue tension. The cycle repeats again and again. The body attempts to distribute these tensions both directly and reflexively.
The theorized direct method was described in the first article: visceral tensions build, then spill over into the intrinsic musculature, which then pull on the osseous system until a dysfunction of motion is created affecting joint range of motion. This both releases some of the internal pressure, but also stimulates the extrinsic musculature to contract to protect the joints from further displacement. Inevitably, one's posture and sense of balance is also affected.
The reflexive method involves the distribution of tensions and strain through more generalized viscero-somatic reflex arcs. These relate to both segmental levels of the spinal cord and regional areas that have come to be recognized by surgeons as indicators of acute organ pathology.
What I've come to realize is that the body is organized to use the joints of the axial and appendicular skeleton in a very similar fashion to an electrical circuit-breaker system in a more modern home. Organ correlation to segmental levels of the spinal cord are referred to as spinal correspondences and are maps to the work of chiropractors and the osteopaths who directly manipulate the joints.
Regional reflex areas, such as the right shoulder/scapula area associated with liver/gall bladder congestion, stasis and disease, are referenced in some medical textbooks but are more commonly found, and their relevance more usefully described, in surgical references.3
The paradigm of working from the "inside-out" suggests that as massage therapists, we need to learn how to equalize the pressures within the tubes, sacs, and cavities of the body as a first step to assisting our clients. Additionally, knowledge of the aforementioned spinal correspondences and regional reflex areas can be invaluable for making timely and appropriate referral of our clients to medical care from the onset of working with them, or when they are not making progress.
Competent massage therapy of any orientation will assist stress-induced states of congestion to dissipate with a lessening or disappearance of the initial symptoms. When this doesn't occur, it is our ethical responsibility to encourage medical evaluation. A "well-baby" visit to a physician can be invaluable to the mental health of a client who fears something is amiss.
Stress-related problems follow the progression offered in the first article: adaptation, compensation/substitution, injury/illness, degeneration/disease. Trauma simply speeds one along the continuum. It is common for a client to have all the relevant medical tests and return for additional work as what is brewing within them has not reached the tipping point of recognizable pathology.
Now to lightly kiss the question of why stress affects some people more than others and some in particular areas, while others in totally different ways. As humans, we assign meaning to our experiences in life. We develop a complex array of positive and negative anticipations to events. We live in the models of our mind more than in the present time, experience of life unfolding moment by moment. This is the arena of consciousness and is the most powerful tool for change and evolution for ourselves and our species.
My experience professionally and personally reflects an additional existential theorem, as well: Our bodies are our vehicles for the development of consciousness, the growth of our soul and spirit, and the integration of our personality and spirit. Our bodies are where the action is happening. It embodies our confusions and terrors, our willingness and readiness for change. The body really does reflect a Map of Consciousness.4
Touch bridges time and space, and is the vehicle for re-modeling our inner landscape of attitudes, possibilities and behavior.
For those new to the profession, much of this may have been more than a mouthful, or simply tedious reading, yet it is what we are challenged to hold in our work, and there is more. It has taken years of concentrated experience and study across many disciplines to tease apart the foundational elements of anatomy and physiology to make sense of how the gestalt of the body works in relation to its dance with the psyche.
In truth, this paradigm of working from the inside-out is only the springboard for many connections that are to come in future years.
These basics, and others to follow, have consistently shown themselves to be fundamental to working with clients, especially those with chronic problems. Our real challenge is to expand our perception broadly to include additional dimensions and to nurture our quality of touch to assist our clients to integrate themselves across the many levels of human consciousness.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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